Arizona Trail, Day 22: Flagstaff, Part 3 (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 28)

Welcome back to Aspen’s Tracks, thruhiking the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico. I want to note that this hike was completed before the coronavirus pandemic arrived, but it has left me with quite a bit of time in quarantine to write up my experiences on the trail.

Hiking south, the trail crosses to the flanks of Elden Mountain and continues to drop down toward Flagstaff. It crosses the Coconino National Forest border onto McMillan Mesa and into Buffalo Park, managed by Flagstaff. A wide rice grass meadow composes much of the park, crisscrossed with wide trails and paths providing magnificent views of the San Francisco Peaks, Elden Mountain and the Dry Lake Hills. Just magnificent, especially seen now in the late afternoon. Near the entrance to the park, there’s a memorial bench and plaque to Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff teacher who became known as the “Father of the Arizona Trail.” Hiking across McMillan Mesa and exiting Buffalo Park, the trail climbs onto Switzer Mesa and wraps through the Flagstaff Urban Trail System along the Ponderosa Parkway to Route 66. I make a pit stop at Dark Sky Brewing, where I meet a fellow Vermont alum! Always fun to run into a fellow Catamount. I must have made quite the impression walking in with my backpack after a week or so in the wilderness since leaving Grand Canyon. Then it’s on with another friend to a local Mexican restaurant for a full dinner.

Flagstaff, Arizona’s incredible mountain town, at last. As a bonus, my boots did not totally disintegrate getting here, but replacing them for the trek south is now on the list for the next few days, which will take stock of the logistics to get from here to Mormon Lake and Pine.

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The Arizona Trail passes through stands of gambel oak on the Dry Lake Hills below Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest. (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks along the Arizona Trail, Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine among rock outcrops on the Arizona Trail in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine among rock outcrops on the Arizona Trail in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Elden Mountain rises above gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail on Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail on Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail on Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail on Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks and ponderosa pine on the Arizona Trail on Elden Mountain, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Elden Mountain from the Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff). Fire impacts visible on the south (right) side of the mountain, a lingering reminder of the 1977 Radio Fire.
Dry Lake Hills and San Francisco Peaks from the Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff).
San Francisco Peaks and Dry Lake Hills (left); Elden Mountain (right) as viewed from the Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Dry Lake Hills and San Francisco Peaks from the Arizona Trail on Switzer Mesa, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff).
San Francisco Peaks and Dry Lake Hills (left); Elden Mountain (right) as viewed from the Arizona Trail on Switzer Mesa, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Elden Mountain (right) and cinder cones of the San Francisco Volcanic Field (center) with fire smoke, as viewed from the Arizona Trail on Switzer Mesa, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Elden Mountain (right) and cinder cones of the San Francisco Volcanic Field (center) with fire smoke, as viewed from the Arizona Trail on Switzer Mesa, Flagstaff (Passage 33, Flagstaff)

One thought on “Arizona Trail, Day 22: Flagstaff, Part 3 (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 28)

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